A large consultancy firm has escaped prosecution over the use of restricted NHS data to win contracts, HSJ can reveal.

PwC will not face charges after a three year inquiry by NHS Protect.

The investigation found evidence showing restricted data was supplied to PwC, which was used by the company in the process of winning and delivering contracts with NHS providers.

In May, NHS Protect submitted its file to the Crown Prosecution Service, which decided there was not enough evidence to show dishonesty that would meet the criminal burden of proof for fraud.

The allegations were that PwC had obtained restricted Health and Social Care Information Centre workforce data from an NHS employee. It then used the data in order to win contract bids and consultancy work with 20 trusts over five years.

The data is alleged to have been used between 2010 and 2014.

Nottinghamshire Healthcare Foundation Trust, which employs the accused NHS member of staff, said they were still in post.

HSJ asked PwC whether it still employed two people who allegedly organised the transfer of data and its use on NHS contracts.

A PwC spokeswoman said: “We cannot comment on former employees but can confirm we cooperated fully with NHS Protect in its extensive investigation over three years, which concluded with no action taken.”

HSJ understands one of the employees works at a different consultancy firm supplying workforce advice to NHS organisations. The company had not responded to HSJ by the time of publication.

PwC would not comment on other questions from HSJ including which members of senior management in the health team were aware the company was using restricted data improperly.

NHS Protect would not comment on its investigation. A list of the questions put to it by HSJ is here.

Nottinghamshire Healthcare’s communications director would not answer any further questions.

The CPS confirmed it received a file from NHS Protect in May.

A CPS spokesman said: “In May 2017, the CPS received a file from NHS Protect relating to allegations of fraud. Following consideration of the evidence, specialist prosecutors decided it was insufficient to provide a realistic prospect of conviction in accordance with the evidential test set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors. No charges were authorised and those involved have been informed.”